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The Ring 2
Reviewed by Gary Mitchel, © 2005

Format: Movie
By:   Hideo Bajata (director) and Ehren Kruger (writer)
Genre:   Horror
Released:   March 18, 2005
Review Date:   April 05, 2005
Audience Rating:   Rated PG-13
RevSF Rating:   5/10 (What Is This?)

"Look at all this stuff. Who buys this crap?" — Rachel Keller

I love The Ring. I think it's one of the best horror/ghost story movies of the last 10, if not 20 years. It was intense and original, had great performances and twists, and that evil little Samara made me swear off drinking well water.

So it was with a mixture of fear and hope that I attended The Ring 2.

Most of you will know what I mean by that. The Law of Sequels is that the follow-up to a great movie always sucks. Thus, fear. On the other hand, there have been a plethora of good sequels lately: Shrek 2, Spider-Man 2, Toy Story 2, The Bourne Supremacy, and X2, just to name a few. So hope endured.

Sadly, The Ring 2 fought the Law, and the Law won.

Sam with a Plan

The new movie picks up a few months after the last flick, and our heroes from the first Ring — Rachel and Aidan Keller (Naomi "Jet Girl" Watts and David "I'm gaining on Haley Joel" Dorfman) — have moved to a small Pacific Northwest town to start their lives over. (Personally, I would have moved to someplace further away, and drier. Like Arizona.) Aidan is becoming a photographer like his dad, and Rachel is still a reporter, but now for the local small paper. They have a new house and try to put the first movie behind them. Unfortunately, the evil bootleg tape is still making the rounds, and a copy turns up in their cozy new hamlet.

Hearing about the latest poor sap to die from watching the tape, Rachel breaks into the victim's home, steals the tape and burns it. She was hoping to put an end to the cycle, but instead ticks off the ghost haunting the tape big-time.

From here, the plot takes off as tape-ghost Samara (still one of the creepiest spooks ever) enacts her vengeful plan against Rachel and Aidan. Which is where the movie starts to break down.

The first movie had some pretty set rules and a pattern. Watch the tape and you die. However, if you make a copy and have someone else watch it, your unwitting substitute dies and you live. As the seven days passed, different images from the tape would pop up in your life, all clues to who the ghost in the VCR was and how she died.

The new movie, after the beginning, ditches the tape, but the hint-filled images pop up in the same order. In fact, most of the movie follows the pattern of the first one. It's the same song, only some of the words have changed. This really saps a lot of the suspense from The Ring 2. Ehren Kruger wrote the first flick, and Hideo Bajata directed the Japanese original, so they know the mythology of the films. But it looks like that was not a good thing. This movie feels like one you've already seen before.

Another problem is the change in Samara from wrathful spirit to the standard "ghost with cryptic a desire/plan" that appears in most ghost stories. She works much better as a merciless, creepy, driven (and soggy) wraith with a videotape hook. She's gone from a unique, cool villain to being yet another spook.

Wait for the Tape

The stars do great jobs. Watts is as sympathetic as she was in the first film, Dorfman turns in a solid performance as the haunted Aidan, and there are two very fun cameos that I won't spoil. But the movie focuses mainly on Rachel and Aidan, and it's good that they have to chops to carry the film.

Visually, The Ring 2 is very cool. It has some great moody scenes, some cool effects and some interesting takes on bits from the first film. It also has some genuine scares — but not enough of them. Another problem is that a lot of those moody shots go on, and on, and on. Some judicious editorial work would have improved the film greatly.

I'm not unhappy that I watched The Ring 2, but it's not one that you need to rush out and see on the big screen. Wait for DVD. Or if you want to follow the spirit of the films, rent it on an unmarked tape.

Bonus Track: Rings DVDetails

Before heading out to see The Ring Two, I bought the new DVD edition of The Ring, and it came with a new DVD, Rings. On the disk you get all three of the Samara Tapes, Ringu, The Ring, and The Ring 2. It also has more interviews with the cast/crew of The Ring that were filmed when the first flick was made (similar to this one), a (short) look at urban legends, and a 16 minute short, Rings, that leads right into The Ring 2.

Rings is a fun little story of the poor sap who has the tape at the beginning of the sequel, showing where he got it and how he tried to ditch the curse. It is worth watching, and actually has more potential than The Ring 2's story. It shows a teasing glimpse of the underground world of people who have seen the tape, and how the tape has spread. If this story had been expanded out, it would have made for a much better sequel.

If you don't own a copy of The Ring yet, pick up this edition. If you already own it, see if you can track this down as a rental. Or just bite the bullet, buy it again and see if you can find a used DVD shop to take your original disk. Think of it as your way of passing on a copy so that Samara doesn't get you.

Rings RevSF Rating: 7/10

RevSF contributor Gary Mitchel has a tape he wants you to watch.

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